Nation’s First Multicultural Health Care Distinction Awarded to Health Partners of Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Health Partners announced today that it is the first health plan in the nation to receive the new, “Multicultural Health Care Distinction” from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), the nation’s most trusted independent source for health care quality accreditation. NCQA will officially present Health Partners with the award in recognition of this major distinction during a special ceremony at its corporate headquarters in Philadelphia. The provision of culturally competent health care services plays a major role in assuring the best possible health outcomes for diverse populations,” said guest speaker Dr. Marla Gold, Dean of the Drexel School of Public Health. “This designation illustrates the importance Health Partners places on its diverse members and their health status.”

“We are honored to be recognized by NCQA for our multicultural outreach and efforts to reduce health care disparities in the Greater Philadelphia region,” said William S. George, president & CEO of Health Partners. “This acknowledgement from NCQA, the most recognized health plan accrediting body in the United States, is a great tribute. Our healthcare management team works extremely hard to address the health care needs of our region’s most vulnerable residents.”

Health Partners received the distinction because of its outreach, understanding and service to its 170,000 multicultural members in the Greater Philadelphia region. To help meet the needs of its members, the company has trained and certified bilingual staff members and provides its members with access to a multicultural network of providers who speak 35 different languages. Health Partners has initiated programs that track and analyze comprehensive data on members’ health status by race, ethnicity and language to identify disparities. Its intervention workgroup continually monitors the data and reaches out to members to provide needed services.

To help its members better control diabetes, Health Partners launched a series of nutrition education classes in Spanish and English with instructors from the Penn State Extension Nutrition Links program in 2009. Such efforts are constantly expanding. For example, the company recently formed an employee-led Asian Advisory Committee to help guide its outreach to its growing Asian membership.

“As America becomes more diverse, excellence in multicultural health care is increasingly important,” said Sarah Thomas, vice president of public policy and communications, NCQA. “All of us at NCQA commend Health Partners for leading the way into this new era of high quality health care.”

More than 100 community members, elected officials, and employees will attend today’s ceremony. The multicultural celebration will include ethnic food, music and dancing. Health Partners will also acknowledge the dozens of social service, faith-based and community organizations, and individuals that support its multicultural outreach.

“These community partners are essential to helping us understand, reach and support our members from so many different cultures and backgrounds,” said Senior Vice President of Healthcare Management and Chief Medical Officer Mary K. Stom, M.D.

“You can't help people without mutual trust and understanding,” added Kenneth I. Trujillo. “As a Health Partners Board member and chair of their Community Advisory Committee, I see firsthand how hard they work at that, by listening to members and partners like Congreso.” Trujillo is also Board chair of Congreso, one of the organizations being honored at the celebration.

“Congratulations to Health Partners for being recognized for providing quality health care for residents from all walks of life,” said State Sen. Shirley M. Kitchen (D-3) Philadelphia, who will present a citation from the Senate of Pennsylvania. “It’s quite an accomplishment to have a network of culturally sensitive providers, senior management and employees who are equipped to service non-English speaking members and to make sure that access to health care is available to all underserved Philadelphians.”

Some Health Partners members are also expected to attend the celebration, including a Haitian mother and daughter who came to Philadelphia in the fall of 2009. They were in desperate need of services to help 13-year-old Anne, who suffers from cerebral palsy and other health conditions. A Health Partners case manager was able to get an interpreter involved to eliminate the language barrier, and helped get Anne in a special education program, a home health aide, and other resources that have transformed their lives. “We were struggling when we arrived and didn’t know where to turn,” said Judith Pierre, through an interpreter. “Our Health Partners case worker made phone calls and made sure we were connected to doctors, schools, and support programs. My daughter got a wheelchair and a hand held computer to help her communicate. It’s a whole new world.” Pierre is now able to work full time, while her daughter receives the care she needs.

NCQA accreditation is by far the most rigorous process for evaluating the quality of care and customer service that insurers provide. It is more comprehensive and specific than accreditation from other organizations. It is also more meaningful to plans, purchasers and consumers because NCQA verifies scores and publicly reports results.

Using an evidence-based set of requirements, NCQA’s Multicultural healthcare assessment establishes performance benchmarks which not only help health plans meet state and federal mandates, but create a template for assessing, improving and refining multicultural initiatives.

About Health Partners:

Health Partners is a not-for-profit health plan serving more than 170,000 members in the Greater Philadelphia region. Its HealthChoices Medicaid plan consistently ranks number one in member satisfaction in the area in an annual consumer survey and is rated as “Excellent,” the highest level possible, by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). In 2009, the company launched KidzPartners, which provides free or low-cost health insurance to uninsured children and teens through CHIP, Pennsylvania's Children's Health Insurance Program. Founded more than 25 years ago, Health Partners is one of the few hospital-owned health plans in the country and has received national recognition for its innovations in managed care. For more information about Health Partners, please visit


Health Partners
Felicia R. Phillips, 215-967-4580

KEYWORDS:   United States  North America  Pennsylvania

INDUSTRY KEYWORDS:   Health  Hospitals  General Health  Managed Care